As promised, I have a full report on the Ann Arbor Art Fair (“Art Fair”). The Art Fair is the largest in the country – to illustrate – the vendors list comprised four pages of the program, single spaced and in two columns. It is large. And fun. And pretty.
The Art Fair is so big that it is not something that you want to do alone. You need a partner in crime. I was able to recruit such a person from work. This lovely lady, we shall call her The Runner, left her husband and three super cute children at the lake (on their vacation) to join me in Ann Arbor. Oh, and when I say The Runner, I really meaning running, as in serious running – marathons and all (including Boston). She gets up at 4:30 a.m. and runs 13 miles before work. Her discipline and dedication is awe inspiring. Truly. Especially since, as you know, I do not run.
So, we met in Marshall, Michigan and made our way to Ann Arbor. We made the very wise decision to catch the shuttle from Briarwood Mall into downtown for the bargain price of three dollars. As you can imagine, the crowd is large so parking in the downtown area of Ann Arbor is very tight. I recommend this strategy.
I also recommend taking your map seriously. We did. Upon drop off on Main Street we agreed upon a strategy. We started at The Guild Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair near Main Street, then we moved on to the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, The Original, then we hit the State Street Area Art Fair and then we finished up at the Ann Arbor South University Art Fair, which was conveniently located near our bus stop! This is what happens when you have a lawyer and a pharmacist planning – hello Type A organization bordering on OCD.
I have to say that our plan worked flawlessly. The only problem with the plan was that when you find that one piece of art or jewelry that you love at the 3rd tent you see and you pass on it, because it is the 3rd tent, it is a long haul to get back to it. Luckily, the awesome reversible silver and stone jewelry we found in tent 3 was great but not so great that we felt the need to hike back. Whew.
What we did find, in addition to that lovely jewelry, was an extremely diverse collection of art. There was photography, pottery, paintings, mixed media art, polymer clay jewelry, glass work, giant outdoor sculpture (bunnies, sheep dogs, kids dancing and such), weird looking dolls that looked like I made them, lots of metal work, glass jewelry, woodwork, and tons more.
Needless to say, it did not take long for us to make our first purchases. The Runner and I stumbled off the main drag of Main Street, where you are sandwiched between white tents, to the sidewalk to look at some flowers crafted out of jello molds when we found Mr. Stephen Kinnard and his lovely framed photography. Mr. Kinnard is based in Ann Arbor and does great work of the Great Lakes area and beyond. Both The Runner and I scored a framed picture. The Runner bought a beautiful shot of three brightly colored adirondack chairs sitting in the dunes of Lake Michigan gazing toward the water. I also got a lovely picture but I cannot describe it because it is a Christmas gift for a family member and my family actually reads my blog so I do not want to ruin the surprise.
We both went on to purchase more framed art and jewelry. I made a personal purchase and some more Christmas gift selections with Ms. Kristin Perkins – she makes beautiful glass jewelry. It is super bright and colorful and each piece is one of a kind. The Runner found a stunning necklace at Hilary Hachey’s tent. Ms. Hachey is a metal smith and her work is unique and pretty, it was hard to resist.
It was a win all around on purchases. Below is a list of our finds – some we bought and others we just admired. Please support these artists. This is there way of life and what they do is pretty. And don’t you need a little pretty in your life?
Now, this would not be a proper Midwestern festival without the required food tents – and they were there like a great beacon for those of us who enjoy the fried, greasy, and cheesy treats that can only be found on the street. I had a Wisconsin Dog – an all beef wiener with cheese, mustard, and jalepenos at 11:00 a.m. I am ridiculous. The Runner on the other hand eats like a normal healthy human and had a nice sandwich at Panera. Of course, at Panera I had a frozen strawberry lemonade – that is healthy, right? So I eat like a 12 year old, what of it.
This was the first time in Ann Arbor for both of us. So, we were both interested in checking out downtown and the University of Michigan campus. Luckily, the fair snaked through the Michigan campus and downtown Ann Arbor. It was a great way to get the tour of town. As the shuttle drove by the U of M football stadium both of us were giddy with excitement – seriously, we were like two little kids. I can’t wait for college football to start! But I digress. The campus from what we were able to see is nice and has some beautiful buildings. The Michigan Theater is also a great photo opportunity. I like Ann Arbor and will visit again.
We completed our planned route by 3:00 p.m. We had walked past every tent, we were sweaty, slightly dehydrated, and tired of lugging our loot. So we decided that we had seen it and done it and promptly put ourselves in the long line for the shuttle. It was a good thing, too, since that was when the good Lord decided to make it rain. And rain it did, thunder and all. But we had timed it perfectly and made it back to the car only slightly wet.
It was a great trip and a festival that I highly recommend for those who enjoy art of all shapes and sizes. Both of us repeatedly remarked of the amazing selection of diverse art. Art means so many different things to different people. It is fun. Speaking of . . . below is the short list as promised above. Beware – the list is heavy on jewelry. Enjoy!
Aaron Foster – he makes giant art out license plates. It is super cool and I really wanted to buy one to go on the huge wall inside my doorway. Unfortunately, my art budget was a little slim but I am keeping his information handy for future reference.
Jill Sharp – She is from Roswell, Georgia and she makes some lovely jewelry. As you would expect from a Southern lady – it is pretty.
Mary Filapek and Lou Anne Townsend – These ladies make beautiful metal jewelry that includes polymer clay inserts. They can do custom pieces and each piece is one of a kind. I purchased a pair of round silver earrings with a strip of black polymer clay in the center of the circle. They are very striking and pretty. My Sister thinks they look like ear plugs, which I think makes them even more cool. Go ladies go!
Pedra Chaffers – She has stores in Ann Arbor, Michigan and St. Croix and she makes beautiful beaded art that is framed. Very unique.
Christy Klug – She is a jewelry designer from Austin, Texas (a super fabulous town and state). Beautiful and unique jewelry.